The Day I Turned Darkness Into Light: The Story Behind Strong Heart Awakening
I get this asked a lot whenever I am invited on a podcast or broadcast. How did my company, Strong Heart Awakening, come about? What is the deeper meaning behind it all? Usually, I kept it short and sweet. I love to encourage people to become a better version of themselves. I looked up the root word of encouraging, which stems from the French word “encoragier”, which means “making the heart stronger.” That is how I got the name for my company. But the deeper meaning behind Strong Heart Awakening is so much more than just a nerd playing with words.
4th of June 2007
4th of June 2007, a day I will never forget in my entire life. I already lived in the U.K. I am originally from Berlin/Germany. My relationship with my family was not always the easiest. Growing up, I knew my mum always meant well, but we clashed just too much. My stepdad was a functioning alcoholic, and my mum too deep into her codependency that she would not see how toxic the family dynamic was. Over the last couple of months, my mum seemed to behave very strangely, my siblings were concerned about her weight loss, but she would claim that she was on a diet and that all is well, and “No, Jenny, you don’t have to come over, all is okay.”
That was about to change on the 4th of June 2007.
At around 9 am my sister called me, crying, I could hardly understand her; she told me dad died suddenly. She still lived at home and found him dead in the bathroom; he just collapsed. He went through cancer treatment, was cancer-free, but developed a blood clot that went up to his heart. Not only this, she said, that mum has a hospital appointment too. “Something is wrong, please can you come to Berlin?” Do you know how it feels when time stands still? You wonder if you dreamt this and try to understand what just happened? Yep, that was me. “I call you back; let me sort some things out.” I made several calls, took unpaid leave, booked a flight for the next day to Berlin. Unaware that things were about to get worse and a lot more shocking than I thought possible.
I Didn’t See This Coming.
When I arrived in Berlin, our uncle already drove my mum to the hospital. She apparently got submitted on this day. My siblings, obviously totally confused, scared, shocked, numbed by what just happened, couldn’t answer any questions I had.
When we arrived the next day at the hospital to find out what is going on with my mum, we got called into the doctor’s office and got told that my mum has Stage 4 Breast Cancer, one of the worst cases they have seen, because my mum hid her cancer by the look of it for several years.
She found a lump in her breast and decided not to go to the doctor because she didn’t want to leave my youngest siblings by themselves with a dad that was a functioning alcoholic. Her codependency was so strong that she sacrificed her life for it. When you hear news like this, you feel like you failed your family. Thoughts of “How can I not have noticed that something was severely wrong with mum?” Suddenly, all those weird arguments I had with mum over the years, where I felt she pushed me away, made total sense. She was scared that I would have detected her cancer she was so desperately hiding.
When Darkness Hits You
Darkness hit us all, but there were so many things to sort out; my stepdad’s funeral, my mum would not be able to afford and stay at the apartment she lived in now. Till today I do not know how we managed it all to be sorted within 2 weeks. All I said to my siblings was that no matter what mum taught us, we WILL ask ACTIVELY for help and take ANY help and support that will be offered to us. And that is what we did. I don’t know if you believe in God or the Universe or however you want to call it. But I truly believe that a Higher Power was definitely at play because we got so much help from everywhere.
My mum lived for another 8 years, and she passed away on the 9th of September 2015, far too early and far too young. She witnessed the birth of her first grandchild, my nephew, but she missed out on so many other events that she would have loved to experience.
Transforming Darkness Into Light
In between 2007 and 2015, I restudied to become a Psychological Therapist, and I also worked as a Recovery Coach for people who suffered from Substance Misuse and Codependency. And when my mum closed her eyes. I knew that I have to change something in this world. Help people understand that toxic relationships and a lack of boundary setting and self-love can indeed kill you.
My mum made the ultimate sacrifice. An unnecessary sacrifice. So I promised myself that my mum’s death should at least lead to something beautiful, something that helps other people. I promised myself that I would transform this “box of darkness” into a “box of light”.
This is the true story behind Strong Heart Awakening. To have the courage to change your life, let go of toxic situations, not be scared to face any challenges, not being scared to ask for help. I want to encourage people to face obstacles full-on and not avoid them. I want you to understand that you deserve healthy, vibrant, loving relationships. Setting standards and boundaries in a relationship will hold the people you meet to account to do better, to step up to the plate. And above all that, you never have to face anything on your own. There is always help available we only have to accept it when offered or ask for it when needed. You can turn any darkness into light. Anything that can break you is also there to make you stronger!
This is in memory of you, mum; your death won’t be in vain.